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Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~ Norman Vincent Peale

We have been working hard at putting up the Christmas tree and getting all the house decorated. We had our first snowfall the other day... it didn't stay lol but SBean sure thought it was cool, no pun intended :)

The girls are such GREAT helpers...

Last year HBear made a gingerbread ornament, smell it SBean!

NO! You may NOT eat it lol

Ninja might as well grab a sleeping bag he has been down in the crawl space so many times in the past week lol

Note the different outfits lol It took us a few days to get it all up.

I had tons of family traditions growing up.

I LOVE Christmas.  

My Mom and I DIIIIID Christmas. We handmade dozens of  mini quiches, spanakopita, creampuffs, tarts, OMG so many tarts… we made pasta, gnocchi, perogies, cookies, squares, and yummy breakfasts and dinners for 6-9 people for at least 5 days... every year!!!! It was chaos in this little kitchens but it was hilarious times with my Mom.

This year is so different. My Mom bought us a new ornament every year. Ninja and I started the same tradition.

Each year we try to pick one that represents the year for them.

2008 can be seen HERE.

Year 2009 - She LOVED Elmo and Sesame St. 

My Poor attempt at an Elmo cake LOL My Nana took 1 look and said “Well isn’t that just the ugliest cake you have ever seen.” LOL totally deadpan just so matter of fact. LOL *sigh*  this is our first Christmas without her too.

We took HBear to see Elmo Live… she LOVED it!

We put up HBear’s First Bday cards on her door and counted them every day together LOL

Her ornament…

Year 2010 - We actually played in the snow. She helped make a snowman J She really likes being outside but isn’t much for the cold lol

Her ornament…

Year 2011 - She had skating lesson and we went skating up at Apex.

Her ornament…

Year 2012 - She was all about ballet!!!!

Her ornament…

And of course SBean was born!!!!

Year 2013 - This year I got the girls personalized angels… in honor of the woman that started the tradition, for Nana J

Tonight I made stew… this was a dish Mom made that we all loved, but only SHE had the recipe, in her head. You know, one of those dishes you just know how to cook?!?

This was good. Not like Mom’s but still a really yummy and filling stew. Perfect for the nasty weather we are having!!!

Chilly Day Beef Stew
Adapted from Amusing Foodie

1.5 pounds stew beef cubes
3 medium potatoes, cubed
2 whole carrots, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 beef bouillon cube
2 cups beef broth
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
1/8 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons olive oil

BTW, Why don’t they have big bags of frozen peas? Seriously, only Safeway has them. I checked at Walmart AND Superstore and it is just mixed peas and carrots!!! I had to pour a cup and pick out all the peas for this!!! Jeeze, why does my Dad like peas so much???? LOL

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.
Sprinkle the beef cubes evenly with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
Add the flour to a large zip-top bag, then drop the beef cubes in all at once. Seal the top and then shake the bag until the cubes have been coated with flour.

Add half the beef cubes to the pot and brown them on all sides – about 2 minutes per side. Remove them to a plate lined with a paper towel, and then repeat the browning process with the rest of the beef cubes.

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pot, followed by the onions, mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper, allspice, paprika and parsley.

Cook the mixture until the onions are translucent, about 3-4 minutes, and then stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the beef broth all at once, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the bits that were stuck to the bottom of the pot. Next, add the water, bay leaves, bouillon cube, beef cubes and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce heat and cover, then let it simmer for 1 hour.

After an hour, add the potatoes and carrots, then cover and cook for another 30 minutes.

Ladle out 1 cup of the hot liquid into a bowl and whisk in the cornstarch until the mixture is smooth.

Cover the pot and cook for another 30 minutes.

Add peas. Stir then remove the bay leaves, and serve the beef stew with a loaf of crusty French bread.


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